Positioning itself for a second place finish in conference, the softball team won two out of three games in a weekend series against Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, putting the Leopards in great shape for one last push with three games remaining.
Losing the opening game of the series 2-1 the Leopards (24-13, 11-4) reeled off two straight victories with scores of 8-4 and 4-0, putting them in a tie for second place with Cal Lutheran in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“We won the games we needed to win,” head coach Robin Haaker said. “As a team we have to continue to win our games and the rest is
out of our hands. Redlands is playing really well right now and they are going to be hard to catch.”
Behind stellar pitching from starter Mary Olson and reliever Katrina Ortiz, the Leopards shut out the Regals in game two of the doubleheader with both pitchers pitching straight toward the victory.
Olson pitched seven scoreless innings, scattering four hits paving the way for Ortiz who followed suit and only allowed two hits in relief.
With the game locked down in a heated pitching dual, the Leopards once again received clutch hitting down the stretch.
Sophomore second baseman Suzy Riker smacked a baseclearing double in the sixth inning, giving her three RBIs for the game and the Leopards a 3-0 lead.
In the seventh inning Morgan Dobis added an insurance run for the Leopards, belting a solo home run as they marched on to the 4-0 victory.
“We played really well this series,” Riker said. “Not just me but the entire team stepped it up another notch and we made some key plays. We even played great in the loss but they were just a little bit luckier than we were.”
Game one of the two game set was a hitting frenzy as both teams finished the game with 11 hits, the difference being the Leopards received clutch pitching down the stretch.
Starting pitcher Amanda Jones received the victory, pitching a complete game and only allowing three earned runs with the offense doing the rest.
The Leopard offense came to play in a big way with first basemen Ashley Savage knocking in a game high three RBIs in the game.
Jessica DeGiacomo, Jodi Lindsay and Riker all contributed with two hits a piece leading the Leopards to the 8-4 victory.
“The whole team played a great series,” Lindsay said. “Now we have three games to go and we have to finish on a strong note.”
Costly errors proved too much for the Leopards as the Regals stole game one of the series right from their pocket winning, 2-1, at Ben Hines Field.
With another pitching duel brewing between Leopard starter Olson and Cal Lutheran starter Olivia Chacon, designated hitter Lindsay broke the scoreless tie by hitting her fifth home run of the season.
The lead would be short-lived though as a key error in the sixth led to a run scoring double for the Regals.
Proving this is a game of inches, the Leopards missed an opportunity to win the game when Morgan Dobis smacked a lead off double, but was thrown out trying to advance to third.
Olsen took the loss despite only giving up one earned run on seven hits.
“That is just the way the game goes,” Haaker said. “We thought we had the opportunity to advance her to third but the ball just got there quicker. I have to commend my team for the way they played, they hung in there and played a really tough game.”
The Leopards close out the season this weekend in a three game series with Whittier. The action starts at 4 p.m. today in Whittier, with the series concluding at noon tomorrow with a doubleheader at Ben Hines Field.
Jonathan Corral can reached at email@example.com.